Updated: Jul 3, 2021
The racing batch are off today and I’m sure they are going to amaze, astound, perplex and impress us with their antics. But it’s worth remembering that they are actually a sideshow and the real vasbyt happens in the rank and file riders who are already out there on the trail.
There are those who are conservative and have their sights set firmly on securing a blanket without any drama. No Trophy Nicholson and his entourage fit firmly into that mould. They are progressing nicely without fanfare or big navigational mistakes—they got a tad creative on day 2 between Donnybrook and Centocow that cost them about 30 minutes. Apart from that they’ve progressed with metronomic precision bordering on boring. A perfect study on how to move from support station to support station without having to do all but a tiny bit under torch light.
Then there are those who started out on the back foot. Clint le Roux had an awful first day that had him walking a chunk of day 1 resulting in him taking 14.5 hours to cover the 105 km’s to the first support station of Allendale. He then smartly chose to have a shorter recovery day to Centocow before pushing on.
2 days later Tracey Lentin had a similar day 1 arriving well after dark and also opted for a shorter second day. She left some of the early support stations well after the others which robbed her of the efficiency of speed and navigation that comes from a group who knows what they are up to. She has since remedied that and is now moving along nicely.
Day 1 was also a hard day for John Beckley who called it a day just before Allendale.
Day 1 is a shocker, particularly for FC rookies. On paper it looks an easy 105 km. Spreadsheet that at the pace of an easy Saturday morning ride with your tjoms, say 15km/h, and it’s only a 7 hour ride… surely? Many riders (this one included) have arrived at Allendale after dark questioning whether they are up to the task.
Then we’ve had some adventurous riders who chose to press on. Such as Derrick Bingham and Kevin Meier who refuelled in Allendale and pushed on to Centocow. They then left Centocow at 2am and pushed through to Masakala arriving there after 10pm. They’ve continued pushing and have just arrived in Rhodes in a smidgen over 3.5 days.
All riders have been buffeted, some brutalised, by unrelenting wind yet they press on.
Sadly there have been injuries and withdrawals, and penalties served for replacing bikes and bike bits that failed to withstand the daily rigour. This is a tough event that takes place at a testing time of year. It’s hard out there whether you are “touring” or racing. “Touring” is a word often used to describe riding a single section per day à la Roger and his Merry Men. It’s a horrible description as there are no easy days on this trail. Every kilometre is earned.